May 2009
« Apr   Jun »

Straussy: Why I'm backing Colly for T20 glory

May 28th, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England, Twenty20


One of the key skills of leadership is delegation, as I remarked to Owais while he freshened up my G and T the other evening. Marvellous chap Owais, terribly keen, and he certainly used his spell as England Twelfthy to good use: there is no finer drink mixer on the county circuit.

“I think that West Indies series went rather well,” I said, half to myself, forgetting that the merest hint of a suggestion of Test cricket can send the poor chap a little jittery. Shortly afterwards, as he was mopping up the broken glass and giving the old drinks tray a bit of a wipe down, I let him into my thinking.

“This Twenty20 World Cup beano that’s coming up,” I said. “Do you think it might be a good opportunity to give one of the chaps a turn in the spotlight? Let one of the other ranks enjoy a spell with the old pips on the shoulder?”

Owais became very excited, and dropped a box of really quite reasonable cigars in his agitation.

“Me Straussy? Skipper? Really?” he said.

Slightly awkward, wouldn’t you say? I thought of what matron used to say before ripping off a plaster: grit the teeth and get it over with in one quick go, and then go and give your little ticket a rub to cheer yourself up.

“Not you, Owais, you clot,” I said as kindly as I could. “One of the regular chaps. This World Twenty20 shindig has all the hallmarks of being an absolute ruddy disaster.”

“It’s true,” said Owais. “Old Shaun Udal was saying that he thinks it’s overkill, all the Twenty20, and he says that when he started out it was all timeless Tests and we were much happier in the old days and you could leave the dressing room door open.”

“That may be the case,” I said. “And more to the point, I’m pretty certain that England are going to get totally whacked by all and sundry. Let someone else get grilled by bloody Nasser for a change.”

“Are you coming up with a plan, Boss?” said Owais. “Cos in the IPL we came up with clever plans all the time.”

“Nobody’s interested in your tales of the IPL, Owais,” I said gently. “We all saw you sitting on the sidelines with the speckies and the fatsos and the kids with off-games notes. You hardly ever got picked. But you are right in this instance: I do indeed have a plan. Pass me the electronic telephone, there’s a good chap.”

I dialled.

“Colly! How are you old chap?” I said. “Now I hope I haven’t torn you away from your whippets or your coal or whatnot.”

I hadn’t.

“Now then, Collly,” I said. “How do you fancy a spell back in the England driving seat? The usual fee? Splendid. You’ll be brilliant; and I’m absolutely sure we’ll win. Ta-ta”

Owais looked expectant.

“Arrange for a crate of brown ale to be sent round to chez Colly, Owais, there’s a chap,” I said. “I think this summer is coming along splendidly.”

By Alan Tyers

Posted in Alan Tyers, England, Twenty20 | 2 Comments »

Lawrence Booth: What have England learned?

May 28th, 2009 by Lawrence Booth in England, The Ashes


One down, one to go. West Indies have been beaten; now for Australia. But what have England learned in the first part of the summer, and what concerns remain? Here’s a rough and ready stab…

Reasons for Poms to smile

  1. England have learned how to win again. Not since 2000, home or away, have they had the better of opponents other than Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in both the Test and one-day series. Yes, West Indies were a dismal side dismally led. But England cannot be choosers. And it wasn’t as if they snuck home either.
  2. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad could be a new-ball pairing to be reckoned with. Anderson has learned how to swing it both ways – at pace and with control. Broad has the best set of variations in the team and loves getting top batsmen out. They feed off and advise each other. And they have more bowling nous than either of their elders and supposed betters, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison.
  3. Ravi Bopara looks the part. It’s not just the runs he has scored – it’s his insouciance, a quality which will be crucial in winding the Aussies up. One word of caution: his one-day innings of 43 and 49 both ended with casual shots. The same thing used to happen to Rob Key. Bopara is better than that.
  4. Graeme Swann has turned into that rarest of English breeds: a genuine spinner who doesn’t weaken the tail. His potential against the left-handers is well-documented. But it’s his line to the right-handers which is refreshingly unEnglish too: outside off and turning in, rather than middle and off and cramping up. And don’t forget that Ricky Ponting doesn’t like starting against spin…
  5. The coach and the captain appear to have unearthed everyone’s favourite document: a hymn sheet they can both sing off. Some wondered whether Andrew Strauss and Peter Moores were too similar, as if consistency of thought were a bad thing. But England craved stability after the Kevin Pietersen-Peter Moores debacle, and they seem to have found it.
  6. Pietersen is due a few runs. This generally means only one thing.

Reasons for Poms to frown

  1. Mitchell Johnson has quickly become the most dangerous bowler in the world. The steady platforms laid regularly by Strauss and Alastair Cook could be blown away if Johnson’s new-found inswinger to the right-handers (outswinger to the lefties) continues to develop. And he can bat too.
  2. Who will bat at No6? It should be Matt Prior, although ideally your keeper bats at No7, no matter how proficient he is in front of the stumps. But it could be Flintoff, who finally admitted in a TV interview recently that his persistent description of himself as a batsman who bowls is based on “pride”. Better, on balance, to give Flintoff licence at No7.
  3. We don’t yet know whether Graham Onions will be exposed by better batsmen on less helpful pitches. Assuming Flintoff replaces Tim Bresnan and England resist the temptation to pick two spinners at least until later in the series, Onions will be the fourth seamer. That was Simon Jones’s role four years ago…
  4. As he himself pointed out, Ponting is yet to captain an Ashes-winning team in England. These Australians love their history, you know.

Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for the Guardian

Posted in England, The Ashes | 1 Comment »

Site by Anson Robson Marketing © 2010 The Wisden Cricketer All Rights Reserved